Home > Uncategorized > 1-19-11: Monkey Mind Thoughts

1-19-11: Monkey Mind Thoughts

I’ve been trying to meditate for years, mainly because happiness researchers have said that meditation practitioners tend to be happier people. What I have succeeded in doing – what I actually have done – is consistently set aside 30 minutes to listen to some binaural beats (who knows if they work, but they make a decent timer), usually during my morning bus ride to work.

Well and good. The thoughts that zoom about my mind tend to fall in 4 categories:

  •  Those about the meditation itself (“How’m I doing?”)
  •  Those about food and/or the best way to lose weight (“I should really buy some Japanese sweet potatoes, but maybe I should eat tubers only after strength training”)
  • Those about exercising and/or optimizing body composition (“Why is that adding just 5 more lbs. to lat pulldown move makes it not just harder, but actually impossible?”)
  • Work (“I should really remember to do that thing.”)

The most distracting are probably the meta-meditation thoughts, in which I concentrate on my breathing and consequently become too self-conscious to keep up any sort of natural rhythm. Or I attempt to repeat a mantra, but am derailed by the “This is the stupidest mantra ever” thought.

It’s tempting to label the phenomenon “Meditation FAIL,” and leave it at that, but I think that assessment wouldn’t be quite correct. If nothing else, these attempts at meditation provide me with a backdrop of negative space for my thoughts, a figure/ground analogy to contemplate. Thoughts stand out, glittering and discrete. Through examining them, I have gained the self-awareness of the types of things I consistently tend to think about. Is this an accurate measure of the kind of person I am? It’s an incomplete snapshot, but a relevent part of the picture nonetheless. Will it prove to be useful information? Only time will tell, but at least I’m setting aside 30 minutes a day to meditate on it.

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